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Employer gag bill returns in Oregon Senate

June 2, 2009

Senate Democrats to Bring Back the Likely Unconstitutional “Employer Gag Bill”
By J.L. Wilson
Associated Oregon Industries
Oregon’s largest business lobby

SB 519 will again be brought to the Senate Floor for a vote.  Right on the heels of twisting enough arms to pass a massive extension on product liability lawsuits, Senate leadership now appears to have secured the votes to pass SB 519, the unconstitutional “Employer Gag Bill.”  Just three weeks ago, a massive employer outcry scuttled leadership’s plans to bring the bill to a vote on the Senate Floor.  Instead, the bill was sent to the Senate Rules Committee, giving Senate leaders enough time to apply pressure on Senators who did not want to saddle employers with unconstitutional restrictions.

SB 519 restricts the ability of employers to talk to their employees about political matters, including unionization of the workplace.  The bill effectively prohibits employers from requiring attendance at employer-paid meetings to discuss these issues even though the meetings are protected under federal law.

AOI and other business groups have argued that SB 519 is an unconstitutional intrusion on federal labor law.  But even more compelling, AOI and others make the case that SB 519 is unconstitutional under Oregon’s constitution because it regulates employer free speech rights (see AOI’s legal analysis here).  AOI also believes it is wrong to make employees who refuse to attend employer-held meetings a new protected class of workers.  Under SB 519, these workers, who may be laid off due to market conditions, would have the ability to sue their employers claiming retribution for not attending a workplace meeting.  (You can read AOI’s arguments against SB 519 here.)

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By J.L. Wilson
Associated Oregon Industries
Oregon’s largest business lobby

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Discuss this article

LaRayne June 2, 2009

Let’s pray that this proposed bill, once again, gets enough public out cry that it doesn’t pass. It concerns me when the government has it’s tentacles in so much of our lives.

tripper June 2, 2009

These are sensitive matters, and a law is not always the best fit.

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